Fathers and Children
As I reflect on my decades of being a dad to three (now six when you include spouses) children, I know that I made plenty of mistakes along the way. If I did one thing right, I believe it is that I tried to be consistent in my expression of love for my kids and in my insistence that my kids love God first.
With that in mind, I will share some thoughts based on Paul’s admonition to Fathers as found in Ephesians 6:4
Do not provoke, rather bring them up with the discipline. There’s the rub. As the writer of Hebrews (I believe that to be Paul, but that’s a subject for another post/time), reminds us “no discipline seems pleasant at the time.” Discipline has become synonymous with “punishment,” but that is not an accurate definition of the word by any stretch. Discipline and Disciple both come from the same root word meaning “to teach or train someone.” Yes, there can be negative applications here, but there are also positive applications. Setting the example for others to follow and helping them to see the benefits of following is disciplining or discipling them.
When it came to raising our kids, my goal was to have children who love Jesus more than anything or anyone else. I wanted my children to see my love for Christ in action. Not just to hear me say the words, but to live the life. I wanted them to fall in love with Jesus and with the Word of God. I know I could have done a better job in this regard. Not sure my children “caught me” reading the Bible as much as I should have “been caught.” It is difficult to have quiet time with the kids in tow.
My goal was to have children who love Jesus more than anything or anyone else.
So what are some practices we can put into place to help our children be brought up with discipline while not provoking?
Set the example. If your kids don’t see you actively living out a life of love for Jesus, don’t expect them to do so themselves. Actions speak louder than words. You reverence of, respect for, and adoration of Jesus can be expressed in many ways, including how you treat your spouse and your children.
Read Scripture and pray with your kids. This is above and beyond your “quiet time” in the Lord. As I already mentioned, it can be difficult to be “caught” by your kids in your personal quiet time, but it wouldn’t hurt to be “caught” by them occasionally. Meanwhile, part of your daily routine should be time in the Word and in prayer with your kids. Ask you kids to pray for you, stuff like, “pray that daddy will live a life of love for Jesus today.” Including your kids as prayer partners, not just the subject of your prayers is a big deal, and can be done at all ages beyond the toddler years. For toddlers, encourage them to pray for Mommy and Daddy in simple terms they can handle.
As your kids grow older, let them in on some “quiet time” with you. Take them to a quiet place, let them in on your personal Bible study of that day, and pray with and for them.
Show your spouse love in front of your kids (keep it age appropriate). It is a good thing for your kids to know that Mommy and Daddy love each other. A friendly kiss on the cheek or even on the lips in front of your kids will NOT scar them for life!
Remember that your kids will learn more from what is “caught” than what is “taught.” Every second you spend with your kids is a “teachable moment.” The tone of voice you use, the choice of words, the smile (or lack thereof) are all important.
Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, especially when you are caught in one. Ask for forgiveness, and lay out a plan to correct the situation. Then, when your kids are caught in a mistake, have them do the same thing. You model it, and expect them to follow.
Remember that no one is perfect. Not even you. Extend grace freely, just as God extends it to you freely every day.
What would you add to this list? What are your successes in disciplining your kids? What would you do differently? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments section below.